Number of file downloads

Indicator Number: 


Logic Model Component: 

Data Type(s): 
Short Definition: 
Captures the number of times a file is downloaded from a website to a user’s own electronic storage medium
Definition and Explanation (Long): 
This indicator captures the number of times a file is downloaded or content is transferred from a website to a user’s own electronic storage medium.
Data Requirements: 
Quantitative data from web server log files, web analytics, and/or content management system records
Data Sources: 
Web server log files; web analytics software, such as WebTrends, Google Analytics, Piwik; content management system, such as Drupal and Joomla
Frequency of Data Collection: 
Tracking the number of file downloads provides insight into which information products and topics website visitors most frequently save to their own electronic storage medium. In addition to tracking general trends, file download data can also help indicate how well promotional efforts and campaigns have reached online users.
Issues and Challenges: 
There are two ways to count downloads: by examining server logs or web analytics. Server logs are produced automatically on a typical web server, and can help staff distinguish between partial and completed downloads. However, content and communications staff may need assistance from hosting company or internal IT staff to access and understand server logs. A web analytics interface such as Google Analytics or the WordPress analytics plug-in uses tags and cookies to track web traffic and can be configured to track downloads. Once set up, this method requires less specialized IT knowledge than accessing or analyzing server log files. Analytics programs also often allow users to filter download data—for example, to see show the geographic location of users who download a specific file. While analytics programs are easier to use, they still require a certain level of expertise, a learning curve should be expected.
For more information about Web analytics, see Appendix 3 on p.83.
Indicator Snapshots: 
In the first quarter after launching social media channels, document downloads on the ICT for Ag community website ( increased by just under fivefold. The film In It to Save Lives: Scaling Up Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) for HIV Prevention for Maximum Public Health Impact (—produced by AIDSTAR-One, funded by USAID, and managed by John Snow, Inc.—received a total of 3,789 plays between June 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. Over 690 downloads were associated with the AIDSTAR-One VMMC materials. The film was downloaded from the AIDSTAR-One website 224 times, the discussion guide was downloaded 121 times, and the transcript was downloaded 123 times. The film was downloaded from 36 countries; the top five countries were United States, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and United Kingdom.
Pages in the Guide: 

Published Year: 

  • 2013
Last Updated Date: 
Wednesday, September 6, 2017